County Council hears update on Zika virus

MD-2xsa County proclaims corrections week

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Dorchester County Council, at their May 3 meeting, issued a proclamation declaring Correctional Officers Week as May 1—7. President Ronald Reagan originally proclaimed this week to honor correctional workers 22 years ago. The week honors those who work in correctional facilities and the difficult tasks they face everyday. Dorchester County Department of Corrections Warden Steve Mills accepted the proclamation for the department.

CAMBRIDGE — Dorchester County Council began its May 3 meeting with commendations for the Cambridge-South Dorchester High School senior play cast and crew, and a proclamation declaring Correctional Officers Week as May 1—7.

A budget public hearing followed, with no public comment offered or received. The budget must be presented for public comment once again before it is voted and approved.

Maryland Association of Counties paid their annual visit to the Council, and spoke of how the counties fared from the recent legislative session in Annapolis. Executive Director Michael Sanderson said there was “no real bad news,” coming out of this past legislative session.
Council President Ricky Travers asked about county highway funds once again, and received the familiar reply (by now) that county highway funds are regarded as very important and are being worked on, but satisfaction doesn’t seem to be forthcoming from Annapolis.

The Dorchester Board of Health followed with an update on the Zika virus, and what the county is doing to prepare and prevent an outbreak. The state has been funding stepped-up mosquito spraying in the region, and more attention to mosquito control is expected. Local spraying of private property on a periodic basis will be offered by the state once again this year, at a cost of $18 a spray. To receive more information or to participate in this program, contact Mosquito Control at 410-376-3062. Information on the Zika virus is available from the Board of Health at 228-3223, or on their website at dorchesterhealth.org.

Manager’s comments went quickly, with a request for authorization to conduct the Firecracker’s Kids Triathlon this year at the YMCA by Cambridge Multi Sport, which was approved. A renewal of the Fair Housing Plan from the county Grant Monitor office was also approved. Other grants approved were the Firehouse Subs Grant application from Emergency Services; the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems grant for bulletproof vests for emergency services workers; the Administrative Office of the Courts Grant for family law seminars for the circuit court; and the Adventure Diversion Grant acceptance for the local management board, which is a grant intended to keep at-risk kids out of jail with diversionary programs.

The Council decided that for the Smithville Tower strobe light a sole source replacement would be the least expensive. In a similar vein, Engineering Services decided that the tower air handler reconstruction project at the Circuit Court was best done by reconstruction in place rather than replacement.

A sole source request for highway line striping was approved for Public Works, since the service provided by the state contractor was satisfactory last year. A proposal for a Solid Waste Management Plan update for the next fiscal term was also approved.

Information was provided for the Incubator building construction cost at the Tech Park was provided, with no vote necessary. A request to utilize Wicomico County’s Flood and All-Hazard Mitigation Plan requested by Emergency Management was approved, in an effort to create and maintain consistency with other counties on the Shore.

The Maryland Sports Grant was voted for acceptance, for the upcoming Ironman Maryland. This will knock $20,000 off the $100k licensing fee the county has to pay to hold the race. The Dorchester County FY17 holiday schedule was approved, as was a telephone poll confirmation request.

The county also voted to approve an application for the COPS grant, agreed to provide a MOU and letter of agreement towards consolidating city and county dispatch services, and approved a list of tax sale properties recently bought.

In final comments for the night, a quick update on the Hearn Building progress was asked for and provided by the county manager. Steel is on site, concrete deadmen are in place on the sidewalk, and the physical shoring of the front of the building is expected to be completed in less than two weeks. Council President Travers discussed the implementation of the “sprinkler bill” and negative effect it is having on local construction starts. Councilman Travers said he would like to see a scheme offering offset of property taxes for the first few years of occupancy, in an effort to “soften the blow” of the added expense of sprinklers, while actively trying to promote their use, rather than opting out. He said that sprinklers have an obvious benefit to the home occupant in the case of a fire, but the additional cost scares away homebuilders.

There being nothing more to come before the board, the meeting was adjourned at 7:20 p.m. The next meeting will be a budget hearing on May 10.

Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at pclipper@newszap.com.

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